Monday, April 28, 2008

A few people to add to your prayer list...

I am down to the last days here. I'm feeling a mix of emotions & will probably be processing it for a long time. For now, I just want to soak up as much as I can while I'm here. 

I have a few people to add to your prayer lists. I want to list the names (and maybe a picture or two) of the kids I've met so that you (assuming someone might read this) can pray for them. The beautiful thing is that God knows these children, He knows their lives, He knows their needs. So, if you pray, He already knows what each of them needs! God is so amazing.

Here you go:
Yulvi, Azucely, Areli, Sergio, Lidia
 Marisol, Milvia, Priscillia, Berbelyn, Maria Jose, Darlin, Fabia,  Lorena,  Manuel, Estrella, Edwin, Victor, Asucena, Byron, Kimberly,
 Carlos, Lupita, Axel, Fredy, Oscar, Claudio, Oscar L., Hector, Oliverio, Daniel, Juan, Zoila, Victoria, Grayzy, Rosa, Rosalinda, Catherin, Oscar, Obed, Hazael, Kimberly, Elida, Evelia, Adan, Erica, Olga, Elena, Claudia, Marelia, Federico, Roberto,  
Lidia, Jackelin, Karlin, Mishell, Enrique, Candy, Vivian, Jonathan, Edwin, Froilan, Aroldo, Melvin, Luis, Franklin, Elvia, Nancy, Sonia, Manuel, Xiomara, 
Mariana, Aldy, Isabel, Nancy, Maribel, Mishell, Keila,
 Paty, Maria, Sara, 
Gricelda, Miriam, Marita, Roxy, Norma, Doris, Betsy, Vicky, Katy, Silvia, Ruby, Lupita, 
Carmelina, Maria, Johana, Darlin, Joselin, Asucena, Astrid, Caty, Sindy, Esther, 
Evelyn, Susi, Nancy, Candy, Carlita, Gaby, Judith, Nidian, and Sharon. 

That looks really sloppy... I still haven't figured this thing out. Anyway, thanks for praying!!!

Well, I'm hungry... it's frijole time! :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And then there were 40

Well, yesterday's post is already inaccurate, we got a new little girl yesterday named Mariana! She's 5 years old, and cute as can be. It was amazing to see her running and laughing and playing today. Please pray that her transition here will be smooth and she will discover security, stability, and love quickly. Pray that she comes to know the Lord (and for the other girls too!). God is good, He is just and kind and merciful. It is so exciting to see Him rescue His children. Thanks for your prayers, God bless! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

There's sand in my purse...

Time is slipping away. I'll be on an airplane headed back to Alabama in 9 short days. I've got mixed feelings about leaving. I am so excited about seeing my family and friends, because I miss them so so much! I am not very excited about saying goodbye to these 39 girls. I don't know how to say goodbye. I am already telling them that I'm coming back, because I don't see how in the world I could not come back! These girls are like family. They've been a part of my daily life for 3 months, I get to hug a lot of them everyday, I get to eat with them, they laugh at my spanglish... I am going to miss them so much! 

I need the Lord more than ever now. I am scared that my time here has only reiterated the fear and pain that the girls have already experienced. I am here, I am now involved in their lives, and then I leave. I don't want to be one more person who leaves them. I hope that the Lord is using me, and that the girls will know that I love them. Most of all I hope that God will sink deep into their lives and they will know that He will never leave them. Please pray for them!

It's a lot of fun when teams come down because it gives me the chance to see more of Guatemala when they're here. The group of 6 came from Chicago & they were a fun crowd! Last Saturday we went to Villa Nueva and went to a coffee farm! Those of you who know me probably know that coffee is my middle name :) so it was pretty fun! Yes, I bought more coffee. After that we all went to Antigua and went shopping. Melanie (She's a cool girl from Washington who is going to be here for two years working with the girls in the Independence Program. It's been so much fun hanging out with her for the last 3 weeks!) and I walked around and got coffee and I bought a hammock! This crazy vendor was determined to sell me one... I thought I was just asking his prices... but Melanie went head to head with this guy for me and got me a great deal! I've always wanted a hammock, now I just have to decide where I want to hang it! The next day we went to church and then went to a Mayan cultural presentation. It was a very interesting experience, haha! We made tortillas, most of ours were muy feo, but they tasted great! We ate rice, chicken, and pepian (it's a soup which I am determined to learn how to make) and it was good! After that the ladies taught us about the Mayan people and traditions and then I got married. They showed us what a Mayan wedding is like and I got volunteered to be the bride. So, in a matter of 15 minutes I was engaged, married, and had 6 kids (only one was strapped to my back though). Afterward, we all agreed that it wasn't legally binding, and I didn't say "I do" so I'm pretty sure I'm still single. That lady didn't look legit anyway. It was pretty interesting though! On wednesday we went to Zapote and then we drove to Pacaya (one of the active volcanoes in Guatemala) and I climbed it! It was an amazing hike and I was blown away by the beauty of God displayed in that mountain. There is a huge amount of lava that has covered the cone and we got to walk around on some of it. It was an eery feeling to feel the heat that's coming from the volcano. I didn't feel very safe. I was reminded of the verse in Job that talks about God telling the waves how far they are allowed to go. The Lord designated that mountain to spew lava and He tells it how far it can go. Pacaya obeys the Lord. It was so beautiful and yet scary at the same time. On friday I got to go to Monterrico, which is on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. It's really pretty, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready to leave when Sunday rolled around! It was hot, humid, and mosquito-infested like Alabama in August... with no air conditioning or sweet tea. So yeah :) It really was pretty though, and I got to swim... no wait, I got spin-cycled in the ocean & survived! I thought it'd be a good idea to swim out past the spot where the waves were breaking. Needless to say, I lost. That ocean is really powerful! There is sand everywhere, and just like I keep finding reminders that I went to Monterrico, I hope to leave Guatemala and find reminders everywhere that I came here and grew and that I am not the same person as I was 3 months ago.

This is getting really long, but here are a few things that have happened in the past week or two:
  • Yesterday, Doris chased me with a dead bird, she thought it was hilarious
  • I ate beans for all 3 meals yesterday (and liked it, haha)
  • There's a little hole-in-the-wall place in San Lucas where you can get the most amazing pineapple banana smoothies (here they're called liquados) for 5Q! (that's less than $1!!)
  • I'm becoming a podcast junky (Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley, and Steve Bateman are a few of my favorites!)
  • I'm planning on getting a masters in art therapy in the next few years
  • Here are links to my latest pictures:

Thank you for your prayers, I hope to see you when I get back! May God bless you in incredible ways!

Monday, March 31, 2008

It's almost April?!

Hello from Guatemala!

My sweet mom came down two weeks ago and we had a great time. It was great to have her here, and for her to see what I've been talking about. We spent one day in Guatemala City and got to relax and spend time together, it was great! Later, we went to the Oasis and we ate dinner with the girls in the blue house. Mom was a hit! We also went to Antigua (Johnny & Maria Coker were our tour guides, thanks so much!!), and were able to see a procession for Semana Santa (Holy Week). People from the Catholic churches and the community will spend hours making alfombras (carpets made of saw dust, pine straw, flowers, and other stuff) that cover parts of the streets that the parade walk down. Church members are selected to carry huge floats (not balloons, these are big heavy wooden things) down the road. They sway from side to side and carry them down the road, trampling those beautiful carpets that they spent hours on. Other men swing buckets of incense in front of the floats, it was like a big cloud coming down the road. I learned that they make a big deal about Good Friday and the days leading up to Easter Sunday, but after that you hear nothing about Christ's resurrection! It's like they're so close, and yet they miss the point. Jesus is alive!

The girls are doing well, and for the most part they are happy and healthy girls! Please pray for the older ones. Peer pressure can be a problem, and some of them are more interested in impressing each other than doing what it right. I've learned that kids are kids, no matter where in the world they're from! Pray for the younger girls, that they will understand what they're learning, retain it, and excel in school. Pray for the house parents, that they'll have wisdom and patience. Their jobs are not easy but so very important. Pray for the girls to see each other as friends and sisters, and that they'll value each other. Pray for the leadership at Kids Alive, both in Guatemala and around the world. Please pray that I'll have opportunities to love the girls and that the Lord will use me.

My job as of last week has been to enter books into the library cataloging system. It's a slow process but it's coming along! I'm enjoying it. They've also got me working on some photography projects for the girls' sponsors and for the home office. I'm really excited about it! I'm so thankful for this opportunity, and feel so blessed to have this time when I can learn so much and see new things and worship the Lord in a different language! God is good! For those who have supported me and prayed for me, thank you so much! May we all run after the Lord, wherever we are, so we can know, love, and glorify Him!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'm not sure where to begin! I'm in the middle of my 6th week here, wow, I am amazed at how fast this is flying by. The newness is wearing off, and I feel a little more comfortable everyday. I guess the point is not to be comfortable though...I guess I should say I'm sort of getting used to being here. I don't get nervous anymore when I'm going to the blue house for breakfast and dinner and it's easier for me to ask questions and relay my thoughts. I'm getting to know the girls better and it gives me so much joy when they're excited to see me everyday. Last night one of the girls told me to call her "sister" instead of "friend." I can't put into words how wonderful this is! All of these things are such blessings, and God has completely provided for my needs in so many ways. I love it, but I've noticed that I've started looking for ways to be lazy... ways to get around doing what I don't want to do. I am embarrassed to admit this. The Lord is challenging me to work hard, and run hard after Him daily. He is teaching me to deny myself and my comfort and my selfish desires, and follow Him into the places I don't feel like going. I have to trust Him, that He will never leave me alone.  Life is not about being comfortable...

"God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him." -John Piper (I've been listening to his sermons on his website-

Here's another link to my second photo album from my time down here:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roller Coasters

The last time I posted I thought I'd be writing again later that weekend... my bad. I'm learning that being here is a lot like a roller coaster. One day will be going great and the next will be really tough. That's an obvious statement, yes, but when you're somewhere new & unfamiliar it's amplified. I'm getting used to it though, and I think that's just the way life is when you're not in control. The girls are wonderful, but are human & can be challenging sometimes. I am learning to love when it's hard to love. This is exciting! I think communication is and will be my biggest frustration. Sometimes I just feel like and idiot because all I can get out is, "lo siento, no comprendo" (I'm sorry, I don't understand). It's cool though, I'm being humbled and slowly but surely I'm learning spanish!! Like I said, there are good days and hard days. God is faithful!

I am also learning to like black beans... a lot! I already liked them, I'd say they're my favorite of all the beans, but I didn't know how to like them for dinner and then breakfast the next morning. I'm not complaining though, it really was good!! They eat smaller breakfasts (desayuno) and dinners (cena) and a big lunch (almuerzo). They eat fruit almost everyday, and the pineapple is the best I've ever had! There's also this rice drink called atol (I don't know how to spell it) but I finally tried it the other night & it's good!! Ok, enough about food...

Yesterday was a blast! I went to Antigua with two of the girls on staff and we had lunch & walked around that beautiful city all afternoon. It was so wonderful to be there, and I strongly encourage anyone to visit if you're ever in Guatemala! God is really funny- listen to this: I was sitting in a coffee shop waiting on Julia and in walked my friend Kelly who I went to Samford with!! I'm pretty sure we made a scene because it's just so crazy to run into a friend in a foreign country! I had no idea that she was down here. I just happened to be in Antigua yesterday & was in that coffee shop at the time when she came in... weird weird. The Lord is cool like that! After that, Julia and I went to the artisans' market and looked around. I got to go back in September with Johnny & Maria Coker & had so much fun, so I was really excited about going back! The culture is fascinating and it's such a colorful place. I like Guatemala more everyday! 
Then the real fun began- I had my first experience with Guatemalan mass transportation!! A.K.A. The Chicken Bus!
I like to call them Crazy Buses, because you have to be a little crazy to get on. There is no such thing as a maximum capacity, and there is no speed limit, so you just hang on!!!! It was seriously so much fun! Julia is a pro, and has done some real traveling on these things so I felt good getting on one with her. We got on & found a seat (because it was only full by American standards, pshhh). We stopped a few more times on the way out of Antigua & large crowds of people piled on, squeezing in wherever there was "room." As we turned out of the city the driver floored it and off we went! The other important person on the bus (other than the driver) is the money guy, who takes your money once the bus is flying down the road. There is no time for paying as you get on, you just get on and hang on. So money dude took my 4Q and squeezed by as I gripped the hold-on-tight bar in front of me. I was trying not to laugh (and doing a bad job of it) because I was next to the aisle and a man was on the window side, so if Driver turned right I slid into my window seat buddy & if Driver turned to the left then I was sliding off the seat and into the aisle. Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious and fun and a lot like a roller coaster! We made a few other stops where other large crowds of people crammed on. It was sort of fun to see how they'd fit... imagine loading the dishwasher when it's already full, but you have those few cups & you just know you can make it fit. Haha, I'm really hoping to take my Mom on a Crazy Bus ride when she comes in March. Haha, I'll be sure to take pictures if this happens!! Here's one more picture of a Crazy/Chicken Bus from back in September. Here you'll see the bus getting ready to plow over an unsuspecting crowd of people:

Just kidding! It's a torch run, and the Crazy Bus is there for their protection. It's a tradition for Guatemala's Independence Day. 

Well, one more roller coaster-ish thing happened today. School was wrapping up at 1 p.m. and Jenny (the director here at the Oasis) came in to tell us that Sharon (one of our girls, I think she's 11) was leaving today. We knew that it was probably coming because her Mom had been working towards getting her back, but you can't prepare for this. It is probably a good thing, but it was still so hard to see her go. I've only known her and the other girls for 3 weeks but I already love them so much. We all gathered around her and prayed for her, and I just cried like a baby. It's scary when I think what could happen to her now that she's outside of these walls, but the Lord reminded me that none of us are truly safe outside of His hands. The Lord is our true Protector, Provider, and Father. Sharon is safe with God, and He will never abandon her. Please pray for Sharon, and for her family who are not Christians. Please pray for the other girls, too. They are beautiful creations, made in God's image. He has made them for great purposes and knows their lives from beginning to end. He knows what He's doing!

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Friday, February 15, 2008

More Pictures Para Ti...

It's friday & I've been here two whole weeks! I will be updating about this week soon, but not right now. However, I've been adding pictures to a Facebook photo album & just found out that I can share that album! So, here's the web address if you want to see more pictures from Kids Alive:
God bless!!